flyingtroutmansHattie has always had to take care of her sister Min to some degree. So when Min falls of the deep end of depression again and is checked into a physciatric ward, Hattie returns to Winnipeg, Manitoba to take care of her neice and nephew, Thebes and Logan. While Min is in the hospital, Hattie takes the kids on a roadtrip to find their father who Min chased away years ago. Logan is only 15 and has just been expelled from school for his dark and defiant attitude. Thebes is 11 and the most talkative child, but while Thebes seems cheerful and bubbly, her teachers say that she makes comments like “I wish I’d never been born”

This book is all about the characters and the family in it. It definitely was a different style than I was used to. None of the the dialogue had quotes in it, and it was all told from the first-person-narrative of Hattie. It’s more of a he-said, she-said diary of discovery. Hattie has never truly understood her older sister Min, and due to living in Paris with her now-ex-boyfriend Marc, she hasn’t spent as much time with the kids as she’d have liked.

When she takes the kids on a roadtrip down into the United States to find their father, Cherkis, she begins to understand herself, the kids, and her sister much better. Whenever Thebes asks for a story, Hattie tells her something about growing up with Min, and we begin to further understand the characters past through flash-backs like this.

The Flying Troutmans is by Miriam Toews, a Canadian writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She recently received the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award for 2008. I enjoyed the story, it was a quick read and had a certain avant garde quality to it. Definitely not your conventional fiction story, which was actually a very nice change.

Min was stranded in her bed, hooked on the blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her (I didn’t know what Thebes meant either), Logan was in trouble at school, something about the disturbing stories he was writing, Thebes was pretending to be Min on the phone with his principal, the house was crumbling around them, the black screen door had blown off in the wind, a family of aggressive mice was living behind the piano, the neighbours were pissed off because of hatchets being thrown into their yard at night (again, confusing, something to do with Logan) … basically, things were out of control. And Thebes is only eleven.

Note: I finished this on the plane to England because we were delayed in Heathrow due to terrible fog. I have arrived safely, and just barely made my connecting flight due to the delay landing. Unfortunately my bag was not as lucky and it should be delivered later today.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes. This situation did not affect my review in any way, shape or form.